UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015

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On September 25th 2015, 193 world leaders committed unanimously to adopting a new global agenda with 17 ambitious goals that seek to end poverty by 2030. UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-moon, stated “it is an agenda for shared prosperity, peace, and partnership (that) conveys the urgency of climate action (and) is rooted in gender equality and respect for the rights of all. Above all, it pledges to leave no one behind”.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), launched in 2000, expire in December 2015. Countries agreed in 2012 at Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, to establish an Open Working Group of technical experts (HealthRight International’s Executive Director Peter Navario was a member), to develop a set of sustainable development goals tackling the complex challenges facing our world today with an emphasis placed on addressing the social determinants behind such concerns and not just the symptoms. A key emphasis was also placed on developing universal goals for all member states regardless of wealth, and fulfilling universal health coverage as oppose to only access in the context of health in comparison to the MDGs. Furthermore, the Open Working Group was comprised of a wide range of stakeholders and took into account the expertise of world leaders, civil societies, the scientific community and the United Nations System, hence providing a diversity of perspectives and experiences when developing the SDGs.

After two years of work, countless consultations and almost a year of member state negotiations, the Open Working Group presented its recommendations for the 17 sustainable goals along with 169 indicators. The new agenda, “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” was formally adopted in September 2015 in a special session at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Some of these goals are closely aligned with HealthRight’s work, including ensuring healthy lives and promoting well being for all, improving access to health services, and achieving gender equality.

The conclusion of the UN Sustainable Development Summit brought with it commitments from each country participating for the 17 goals put forward, including:

  • Ethiopia’s commitment of 70% of their domestic budget to pro-poor activities including education, health, agriculture, and food security
  • Mali allocating 10% of their budget to put an end to hunger in their country, with an aim to raise this to 15% in the near future
  • China will donate $10 million to UN Women for implementation of the Beijing Declaration and its Platform for Action
  • Jordan intends to close gender equality gap by 2030 via increasing efforts to align national legislation with international and regional commitments
  • Sweden announced it would become fossil-fuel free

In addition to country level commitments, a number of collective strategies were discussed including the Global Strategy for Women’s Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. The UN launched this public-private strategy to end preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents, with a commitment of over $25 billion over the next 5 years for live-saving treatments (including immunizations and prenatal care).

HealthRight was invited to participate in the UNAIDS event ‘Action: Implementation. Ending the AIDS Epidemic by 2030’ hosted by Kenya and Malawi. Representing countries included Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Lesotho, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, and most encouraged revisiting the 90-90-90 Targets whereby, by 2020 90% of all people living HIV will know their status, 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV will receive ARTs, 90% of all people receiving ARTs will have viral suppression. Mali also highlighted the often neglected populations of prisoners, refugees, and homosexuals, and urged countries to leave no one behind. Overall, the conversations focused on fighting against stigma and discrimination, focusing on adolescents- particularly girls.

With quite ambitious goals put forward by the UN and its member nations, the expectations are high for the goals and objectives to be obtained by 2030. A number of goals were added with the aim to combat climate change, and the sense of urgency with these goals was not overlooked. There is plenty of work to be done in a number of areas to instill sustainable change for countries that need to put the wellness of their people and countries first.

By Nour Mamdouh Abdelmeguid and Shilpa Reddy, HealthRight interns



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